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  • John Curtis


THURSDAY, April 22, 2021: LAST year’s Newcastle Newmarket winner Special Reward is Hawkesbury bound to begin a new campaign on Saturday week.

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has earmarked the Listed XXXX Gold Hawkesbury Rush (1100m) at the annual stand-alone meeting for the well-performed sprinter.

“Special Reward has trialled well twice, and the Hawkesbury race looks ideal to kick him off in,” Lees said this afternoon.

The former Western Australian five-year-old, who races in the Australian Bloodstock colours, has won eight of his 20 starts.

He landed last year’s Group 3 Newmarket (1400m) at Newcastle and later in the year ran an excellent second to Sweet Deal in the $1m The Hunter (1300m), also on his home track.

Special Reward ran second to Golden Tycoon in an 800m Gosford trial on April 7 before winning a 950m trial at home last Monday.

Lees is also considering a Hawkesbury start for last Saturday’s Provincial Championships Final winner Cristal Breeze, another member of the Australian Bloodstock team.

“I did nominate him for the $200,000 Tamworth Cup (1400m) tomorrow, but felt it would have been too quick backing him up,” Lees said.

“He will get plenty of weight in a Benchmark 78 at Hawkesbury, but I might put Sam Clenton on him to claim 1.5kg as it is a metropolitan meeting.

“It’s not out of the question we will run him at the stand-alone fixture.”

Lees had also been considering the $200,000 Group 3 Blacktown Workers Club Group Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) for recent Hawkesbury winner I Say Hello.

But an inside barrier draw and competing against her own sex prompted him to instead run the filly, who has won three of her four starts, in the Group 3 James H B Carr Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

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